Patients who are considering medical marijuana to treat their health conditions may be concerned about the potential side effects. That is understandable, given how marijuana use is sometimes portrayed in popular culture.
Patients may have seen marijuana users snacking endlessly or not being able to function. This is a mischaracterization of the effects of medical marijuana. An experienced medical cannabis doctor can help patients minimize (or never experience) these effects.
Most medications do have the potential for side effects. Medical marijuana is no exception. Patients may be concerned about potential weight gain and whether they will be able to tackle their day-to-day activities. To make an informed decision about medical marijuana, patients can take a close look at the potential adverse effects, learn more about how to mitigate those effects, and discuss their concerns with their medical marijuana physician.
Is Weight Gain a Potential Side Effect of Medical Marijuana?
Marijuana use is sometimes associated with snacking. Is this a real phenomenon, and if it is, does it lead to weight gain?
It is true that medical marijuana can stimulate appetite. In fact, medical marijuana is recommended to some patients for that purpose. For example, patients undergoing cancer treatments may experience nausea and loss of appetite. A medical marijuana doctor may recommend medical marijuana to help stimulate their appetite so they have the strength to continue their treatments.
Whether or not medical marijuana use contributes to weight gain is a bit more complicated, though. A study in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience found that marijuana users typically weighed less than nonusers. This does not mean that marijuana use leads to weight loss, though. The researchers suspected that marijuana might help regulate the metabolism in users, so it may help those that are underweight gain weight but may have less of an effect on users who are of normal weight or who are overweight.
Patients who are concerned about potential weight gain should share their concerns with their medical marijuana doctor. Although medical marijuana use may increase appetite, whether it will lead to weight gain depends on a patient’s lifestyle, gender, and other factors such as overall health and other medications that are taken. An experienced medical marijuana physician will take these factors and concerns into account when making recommendations.
Other Potential Side Effects of Medical Marijuana
Medical marijuana is a powerful treatment option for several ailments. Patients considering this option should also be aware of the potential complications of medical marijuana. The possible side effects of medical marijuana include:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Reacting more slowly than normal
- Slurred speech
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Lack of coordination
- Changes in mood
Although the potential side effects may seem daunting, studies have shown that many patients experience minimal side effects.
How to Minimize Potential Side Effects of Medical Marijuana
Patients who are considering or starting medical marijuana can take steps to minimize potential side effects. These steps include:
- Discuss potential side effects with an experienced doctor before starting treatment. Patients should communicate their concerns to their medical marijuana doctor. Patients who need to drive for work, for example, may need a different dosing schedule than those who are retired. An experienced medical cannabis doctor will help patients develop a dosing schedule that meets their lifestyle needs.
- Track symptoms and side effects. Many medical marijuana patients benefit from keeping track of their symptoms and the side effects they experience with medical marijuana. There are apps that assist with tracking, or patients can keep a simple log in a notebook. For accuracy, patients should consider noting the time they used medical cannabis, the quantity of cannabis they used, the level of symptom relief they experienced, and whether there were any side effects.
- Ask for help. Medical marijuana is complex, with numerous strains and delivery options available. Patients who are experiencing unwanted side effects should discuss these with their medical marijuana doctor. Side effects may be minimized by using medical cannabis at a different time, by trying a different strain, or by using a different delivery method, such as switching from vaping to a tincture.
- Choose an experienced, professional medical marijuana doctor. Patients should choose a doctor who has experience in patient care and medical marijuana use. They should look for a doctor who provides services in a professional setting and who takes the time to consult each patient and provide individualized recommendations.
Dr. Daniel P. Stein at Neurology of Cannabis in Sarasota, Florida, is an experienced medical doctor with training in neurology. His background in neurology gives him deep insights into the impact of medical cannabis for his patients. He has more than 25 years of medical experience, including a fellowship at the prestigious National Institute of Health in Immunology of Neuromuscular Disease, a residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and an internship at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Cleveland.
He founded Neurology of Cannabis to provide patients with medical marijuana recommendations backed by his extensive research. Neurology of Cannabis offers a friendly staff and a simple pricing model. With a single annual fee of $250, patients receive their initial recommendation, recertifications, and can contact the office for dosage changes and other assistance.
If you are concerned about the side effects of medical marijuana, Dr. Stein can help. Contact Neurology of Cannabis to make an appointment to discuss your needs and concerns.